Canada’s Montagliani becomes CONCACAF’s 3rd president in a year

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY (AP) Victor Montagliani was elected as CONCACAF’s third president in a year on Thursday, tasked with leading the recovery of the confederation following years of corruption scandals.

Montagliani, an insurance worker who heads the Canadian soccer federation, takes on a job that has seen three recent presidents indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice in a sprawling FIFA bribery case.

Montagliani beat FIFA appeals panel chairman Larry Mussenden 25-16 in Thursday’s vote.

[ MORE: MLS’ five Wednesday matches rounded up (video) ]

“The walls are down,” Montagliani said. “It’s time to come together as one CONCACAF.”

Montagliani’s immediate priority is ensuring the Centennial Copa America runs smoothly in the United States next month. Montagliani has also pledged to resurrect a Caribbean league and tackle infrastructure challenges in Central America.

“Today’s modern world of football requires a leader that has both the intimidate knowledge of the business of football and football itself,” Montagliani told the 41 delegates in Mexico City.

Montagliani served last year on the FIFA reform panel that helped to rewrite the governing body’s rules after sprawling investigations into corrupt soccer officials, mostly from the Americas.

[ MORE: U.S. Open Cup roundup ]

CONCACAF, along with the South American confederation, had $10 million of funding from FIFA halted.

FIFA has agreed to free the funds but Montagliani now has to get it released by convincing the global body that CONCACAF has completely cleaned up its act and won’t be charged as an entity by U.S. authorities.

Jeffrey Webb, a Cayman Islands banker, was booted out of office after being arrested last May and his interim successor, Honduran lawyer Alfredo Hawit, was also indicted in December. They have both pleaded guilty in the U.S. and are awaiting sentencing.

Jack Warner, the president from 1990 to 2011, has also been indicted but he is still fighting extradition from Trinidad and Tobago.

In other votes at the CONCACAF Congress on Thursday, Cuban federation president Luis Hernandez and Sonia Bien-Aime, head of the Turks and Caicos federation, won votes for seats on the FIFA’s new-look council.